Hello everyone,

In winter of 2005, at the U.S. IMC conference in Austin, members of the NYC IMC print team spoke about conversations that they had been having with a left-wing indie publisher in New York called Disinfo about putting together a book on Indymedia. There were a number of concerns mentioned about the project as it had been conceived at that point. After months more of discussion and reflection we've come up with a plan.

The purpose of this letter is to:

* Inform members of Indymedia about the project;
* Put out an initial call for submissions.

In our proposal to Disinfo we wrote: "This book would not attempt to be the definitive statement on Indymedia. Rather, it would be an overview of some of the triumphs and struggles of the network over the past five-and-a-half years. Its entries would range from dramatic, stream-of-thought, first-person pieces to more analytic chapters on the meaning of Indymedia. The book, while thoughtful, would avoid being overly academic and would be graphic/picture heavy."

We are excited at the prospect of being able to help the network begin to tell its amazing story to the world. The vast majority of the book will be original pieces written by IMC participants and friends of Indymedia with excerpted material from IMC newswires. While the book will be written in English, we want it to reflect the entire network, and so we will be soliciting submissions of material from all IMCs. In the coming weeks, we will also be sending out a questionnaire to all IMCs to find out a little about each IMC's history, current status, what issues you tend to cover, frequency of publishing, etc.

The book collective working on this project consists mostly of members of the NYC IMC print team, which also publishes The Indypendent (indypendent.org). Our research team will be seeking out material published on the newswires and other IMC publications during key moments in IMC history, but we're going to need help! Guidance on where to find great material will be much appreciated.

We want to make clear that this book will have an open submission process; everyone reading this can and should contribute something about Indymedia if they feel so inspired and should pass this on to others who may also be interested. Please see below for submission guidelines, a general outline of the book, and details on the finance and distribution plan, as well as on the rights and permissions practices for the book. Please contact us if you can help with translating this document into other languages.

After reviewing the following information, please send any questions, suggestions or submissions to  indybook@gmail.com.

Thanks for your time and consideration,

The Indy Book Collective

Outline for the Indy Book Project

* Introduction
* History
* Strengths, Weaknesses and Challenges
* Case Studies
* Multimedia & Technology
* How-To (DIY)

NOTE: The following chapter descriptions are subject to change as people send in queries and suggestions. Submissions can tackle one or more aspects of a chapter's topic or attempt to deal with the entire subject in one comprehensive essay. Please see below for full submission guidelines.

Prologue: Excerpt from Subcomandante Marcos's 1997 statement on the need for a new intercontinental media network that enables ordinary people who resist from below to share their stories.  http://www.tmcrew.org/chiapas/e_media1.htm

I. Introduction
An opening essay that touches on the significance of the Indymedia movement and places it in the larger social and political milieu of the early 21st century.

II. History

1. Roots of Indymedia
A look at how Indymedia's emergence was rooted in a wide arrary of alternative media projects that developed over many years and across several continents.

2. Seattle
A look at the pre-WTO organizing that went on in Seattle, what people were hoping to accomplish, how it all came together, what it was like during the week of WTO and what lessons were learned from the experience.
Supplemental material: Posts and photos from during the WTO.

3. Exploding Growth
A look at how the IMC rapidly became a worldwide movement in the aftermath of Seattle.
Supplemental material: Indymedia timeline, photos of early IMC websites, publications, meetings, etc.

4. IMC and social movements
The IMC and the Global Justice movement both burst into the popular consciousness at the same time. How did the two movements grow together, inform and influence each other? How has IMC's relationship to social movements evolved over the years?

5. IMC and the Cyberleft
Explore the strengths and the weaknesses of the post-industrial Left, the rise of decentralized, Internet-based organizing, where Indymedia fits in this milieu and what it needs to do to avoid some of the pitfalls of other contemporary movements on the Cyberleft.

6. Indymedia and the Anarchist Tradition
A look at how Indymedia's organizational is heavily influenced by DIY anarchist culture.

III. Strengths, Weaknesses and Challenges

1. Who Makes Up Indymedia?
Demographics and geography: Why Indymedia tends to be made up of certain kinds of people (white, male, with access to relatively high level of resources), self-selecting filters; more narrowly focused IMCs versus those integrated into local communities.

2. IMC and race/gender/class
How have issues of race, class and gender been addressed at Indymedia? Have advances been made toward creating a more inclusive and empowering culture for all inside the network? If so, where? And how? If not, why not?

3. Who's Reading Indymedia?
An examination of what fragmentary records exist to develop an estimate of how many people use Indymedia (both on normal days and when there are big protests happening) and how much impact the network may have. Also look at the challenges of moving from crisis-driven coverage toward consistent, daily activity.
Supplemental materials: Solicit responses from local IMCs throughout the network about how they've become more rooted in their communities and on what people consider to be the greatest obstacles or challenges they've faced in their work with an IMC.

4. IMC and the participatory journalism movement
Traditional journalism is facing unprecedented challenges from ordinary citizens seeking to "be the media" This chapter will consider the forces driving this, compare and contrast Indymedia with other citizen journalism initiatives and explore the unique contributions that Indymedia has made to the citizen-journalism movements around the world.
Supplemental Materials: Solicit responses from local IMCs throughout the network about what they see as their greatest achievements to date; stories they covered that made an impact in their community or country, initiatives they took to empower people to "become the media," etc.

5. IMC and State Repression
In 2005, British law enforcement officials seized the UK Indymedia server (which housed 20 other IMC websites) at the behest of the FBI...Indymedia has been targeted repeatedly by law enforcement since its inception with IMC journalists being beaten, tear-gassed and arrested while trying to cover demonstrations...IMC has also been subpoenaed for its weblogs by police looking to track the origins of specific posts...Seattle IMC in April 2001...NYC investigated by NYPD and Secret Service in 2004...Look at how IMC has responded to legal threats and how it radically decentralized its activities and decided to stop logging IP addresses.

IV. Indymedia in Action: Potential Case Studies

1. Genoa G8 Protests

2. Indymedia in the Global South

3. Argentina Uprising

4. People Power in Bolivia

5. The Birth of Venezuela IMC

6. IMC in Africa

7. Chiapas: Indymedia Takes Root in the Home of the Zapatistas

8. IMC in the Middle East

9. From UK to United Kollectives: Decentralization in Britain

10. IMC in Europe

11. IMC in Asia and Oceania

12. Responding to 9/11: NYC-IMC

13. Responding to Hurricane Katrina

14. US Indymedia in the Bush Era

15. UC IMC Buys the Post Office

V. Multimedia and Technology

1. Reflections on IMC Audio Projects
How have IMC radio projects both blended into and made unique contributions to the larger movement to free the airwaves from corporate and/or government-dominated broadcasting...Look at both ongoing projects and special projects around convergences.

2. Reflections on IMC Video Projects
Cable access shows...Vblogging...Video IMCistas have also collaborated to produce more than a dozen feature-length documentaries... Documentaries preserve a part of the movement's collective history, but what has been their overall impact?...Challenges of building distribution networks...a short history of IMC Newsreel, etc.

3. Reflections on IMC Tech
The creation of Active code and the open publishing newswire...What was novel about IMC in 1999? What was it doing on the Web that had never been done before?...Has Indymedia ossified or has it been able to keep up with a rapidly evolving web environment?...Evolution of IMC source codes: SF Active, Dada, Mir, Drupal, etc...Tech's early role in the network and the effort to move to a more transparent, democratic decision-making process...the challenge of archiving...Transferring computer equipment to the Global South.

4. How active is the IMC network?
Review the number of center column features being posted on local IMCs and use the  http://lists.indymedia.org database to review local listserve activity at different IMCs over the past year, in addition to contacting local IMCs, to gauge how actively people are participating and how often meetings are being held (if they are being held).
Supplemental materials: charts, infoboxes


1. How to start an IMC

2. Different IMC models

3. The philosophy and practice of open publishing / moderation / dealing with trolls

4. How to build a radical paper

5. The challenge of distribution
Distribution is critical to IMC's impact ... a look at what alternative distribution channels are available, creating distribution networks, getting indexed by Google, etc.

6. How to acquire space, importance & implications
Indymedia started on the Internet and in many ways was shaped by the decentralizing logic of the Web. Yet, for many local IMC chapters, the need for an actual physical space to meet and work from is the most pressing dilemma they face. The solutions to this problem have varied widely.

7. Consensus and Meeting Facilitation

8. Living With and Managing Money

9. How to run a media convergence space (for big events)

10. Independent journalism tools and tips

11. How to avoid burnout / cultivating a healthy media collective / building long-term sustainability





We are soliciting a lot of different kinds of material for this project, so the style and content of submissions will vary greatly. Please follow the guidelines of each type of content submission. Ideas/pitches for all of the chapters outlined above are welcomed. With all submissions, please include a short introduction about yourself and your work with Indymedia. Submissions in English are easiest for us to handle, but we do have Spanish and French translation capacity at this point and we should be able to translate from more languages as we get the word out about the project.


Original Article or Sidebar
If you are interested in writing something on an idea or issue mentioned in the above outline, or on something that you think should be included in one of the chapters listed above as an article or sidebar, but is missing from our description or list of ideas for that chapter, please submit a query to  indybook@gmail.com before sending us a fully-written article. The query should include the basic idea of the piece, a short explanation of why it's important, and the approximate length you think the finished piece would be. Queries should be under 750 words. If you are planning to submit something in a language other than English, it is especially important that you submit a query (in English, if possible) first. Finished articles will range from 500-5,000 words, and should be fully researched and written in an engaging, straightforward style, i.e., not too jargon-heavy, either activist- or academic-wise. We are also exploring various Twiki-style technologies that make it possible for interested readers to comment on drafts of articles as they go through the editing process.

Newswire Material
If you have written/posted or know of material from an IMC newswire that you think we should excerpt for one of the chapters outlined above, please send us a sample of the text (no more than 250 words), a brief explanation (250 words) of the context of the post and why this particular post is a strong reflection of that event/issue, and the URL for the newswire article, if it's still online. If you are not the author of this material, please include any contact info you have for the writer.

The book's target retail price is $14.95. We can buy the books (and return any unsold copies) for $7.50. We will set up a website for the book and ask local IMCs to put a button or some sort of permanent link to it on their home pages.

We would sell the book through our website for $12 plus $3 for shipping and handling. All the profit, i.e., $4.50 per book, would go to Global, preferably to assist underfunded IMCs in the Global South. If we sell 5,000 books over time, that would mean $22,500 for Global. Any royalties made from the publisher's sales would also go to Global.

The publisher of the book will be Disinfo (disinfo.com), a lefty, for-profit publisher based in New York that has put out titles like: Why Do People Hate America? The Vigil: 26 Days in Crawford, Texas and Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price. We've approached non-profits like South End Press and New Press, but they've shown little interest. It's also been suggested that we self-publish, but upon reflection, we realized that the quality of the product would be compromised, the size of the print run greatly reduced and we would have to create our own book distribution networks from scratch.

Disinfo has offered a $12,000 advance to be paid in three installments: $4,000 upon signing the contract, $4,000 upon delivery of a completed manuscript and $4,000 upon the book going to print. Five percent, or $600, will go to our fiscal sponsor, UC-IMC, for processing. No one will be paid for any work. Photographers in the Global North will be asked to contribute their work. The only exception we are considering is paying photographers from the Global South a modest fee, recognizing they are in a unique position of having high expenses in a developing economy.

Written contributions will not be paid, but will include the author's byline. Members of the book's editorial collective will be working on an unpaid, volunteer basis. The rest of the money would go to the NYC-IMC print team to help cover ongoing media-making expenses, particularly for newspapers and poster projects.

One question, of course, is why the initial funds go to the NYC-IMC print team. The project represents an enormous burden upon our limited resources. Two of our most experienced editors and coordinators, Susan Chenelle and John Tarleton, will be devoting the next year to the project. We will need to solicit unpaid design and production work from our volunteer staff. The same goes for the content editing, copy editing, proofreading and fact checking phases. Then we need to build a website, set up a merchant account and handle all of the order processing -- all of which is also unpaid. Finally, the fulfillment aspect will be an enormous burden. Packaging, addressing and shipping thousands of books will require a huge commitment of work hours from everyone at the project. Again, no one will be paid for this work. The funds will go directly to other media-making only.

We will secure the permission for use of written material where possible, and will very much appreciate assistance from IMCistas in contacting writers of material we would like to excerpt from the newswires. Where explicit permission cannot be obtained, we will excerpt or quote a minimum amount that would fall under US "fair use" provisions. We will be approaching photographers directly to secure permission from them to use their photos. No photos will be used without permission.